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The Influence of Portuguese

Economic Thought on the Breve
trattato: Antonio Serra and Miguel
Vaaz in Spanish Naples
Gaetano Sabatini

The fourth centenary of the Breve trattato delle cause che possono far
abbondare li regni d’oro e d’argento dove non sono miniere con applicazione
al Regno di Napoli, published in Naples in 1613,1 has presented an
important opportunity to reflect on its content, on its author Antonio
Serra, and on the context in which his ideas developed and matured.2
Although many studies have been written about the volume and its
author, analyses of the Breve trattato’s theoretical content have as yet
failed to examine similarities between Serra’s thought and that of early
17th-century Portuguese arbitristas in any depth. The relevant points of
contact between these two areas deserve to be highlighted, and they can
provide crucial insights into the author’s life and the circumstances in
which his work appeared.
At the start of the 17th century, Portuguese economic culture appears
to have been strongly influenced by the formation, across the preceding
century, of a trade network that extended from Lisbon to the Indian
and Atlantic Oceans and by the introduction of the new commercial
and financial practices associated with it. Portuguese economic treatises
gradually moved away from formulations inspired by Scholastic philos-
ophy towards a mercantilist vision dictated by the exigencies of commer-
cial capitalism’s development, particularly in the form promoted by the
Portuguese monarchy, in which royal monopolies and private enterprises
coexisted. No longer did the moral character of economic action or the

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licitness of economic practices lie at the centre of theoretical reflection.

They were replaced instead by the organization and financing of an
administrative and military apparatus capable of expanding alongside
the overseas empire and of promoting the wealth of the state and of the
aristocracy that constituted its ruling elite. Population, manufacturing,
wealth, money, wages, and trade are the basic ideas around which a
discourse began to coalesce, one that, though still in an embryonic and
pre-scientific form, was nonetheless able to provide a description of
the real workings of the economy by relying on rudimentary analyt-
ical instruments, inductive methods, and early attempts at quantifying
these phenomena.3
The first contribution of Portuguese economic thought that belongs
to this period and has significant points of contact with Serra’s Breve
trattato is certainly the Do sitio de Lisboa: dialogo,4 published in 1608
by Luis Mendes de Vasconcelos, who was captain-major of the
Portuguese army in Asia and was between 1617 and 1621 the governor
of Angola.5 Written as a dialogue, among various characters – what
was common in the humanistic literature – and with quotations from
the Greek and Latin classical tradition. Do sitio de Lisboa is a learned
peroration addressed to Philip III, encouraging him to move to Lisbon
the capital city of the Catholic Monarchy, which, at that time, also
included the Lusitanian Kingdom and all of its overseas dependen-
cies. With this purpose in mind, the author focuses on the excellent
natural endowments of Lisbon and its territory in terms not only of
natural ports, healthy climate, and fertile soil6 but also of the efficiency
of the supply networks that from the Kingdom’s various regions led
to the city, showing the potential for expansion of production and
of the Portuguese domestic market and emphasizing the Portuguese
vocation towards commerce on a global scale.7
In his vision of the Portuguese’s natural calling to commerce,
Mendes de Vasconcelos maintains that relations with the overseas
territories should be of a purely mercantile nature: the wealth of
Lisbon and of the entire Kingdom can grow only through a network
of exchanges based on the dominions in India and Brazil. On the
basis of these assumptions, he is strongly against both the peopling of
these territories with inhabitants who come from the Kingdom, since
this would reduce the domestic availability of labour, especially in the
sectors of agriculture and livestock breeding, as well as the investment
of considerable resources in the realization of military and defensive
works, because this would equally entail the outflow of resources.
The resources for the realization of these works, to the contrary, must
The Influence of Portuguese Economic Thought 91

come from the trade itself, developed independently in Goa and in

the other territories of Portuguese India.8 The arguments of Mendes
de Vasconcelos, then, inspired by a strictly mercantilist vision, to be
reached of Portugal’s economic self-sufficiency, meant to follow on
the one supporting domestic production and import substitution and
the strengthening the foreign trade (including through the creation of
a private trading fleet along with the limitation of the state’s commer-
cial monopolies), with its beating heart in the city of Lisbon. In this
treatment of Lisbon, with its natural endowments, and its central role
in the provisioning system and trade networks, one can find impor-
tant assonances with the Breve trattato, with reference to the city of
Naples, and with its own natural endowments and the special charac-
teristics of its trade.
In the first part of the Breve trattato, in fact, Serra explains that the
wealth of a kingdom depends primarily on its specific natural char-
acteristics, defined as the endowment of resources unique to a given
territory – what he calls accidenti propri – namely the fertility of the
soil, the geographic position, the climate, and so on. To these factors
have to be added what Serra calls accidenti comuni: quantità d’artifici,
qualità de genti, trafico grande de negozi e provisione di quel che governa –
that is, the production of manufactures, professional skills, and the
moral qualities of people, the volume of trade both domestic and
international, and the wisdom of the Kingdom’s political leadership.
Just as Mendes de Vasconcelos in addressing Philip III boasts of the
natural endowments of Lisbon and Portugal and invokes measures for
strengthening its trade, so Serra, who not incidentally dedicates his
own work to the viceroy of Naples, exalts the abundant resources of
Naples and its kingdom as well as comparing them with those of other
Italian cities and states, Venice in particular. Indeed, he holds that if
the Serenissima Repubblica seems to be much richer than Naples, this
derives not from a greater endowment of resources but from trade and
how it is practised there.
Do sitio de Lisboa concentrates entirely on problems of trade, and it
does not give money the central place that it plays in the thought of
Antonio Serra; this issue is, though, a major preoccupation in the works
of Duarte Gomes Solis, the second Portuguese writer of economic texts
whose work, which can be read as complementary to that of Mendes de
Vasconcelos, presents important points of contact with the Breve
Born in Lisbon in 1561 or 1562 to a family of new Christians and
grown up in Medina del Campo, the most important financial centre
92 Gaetano Sabatini

in 16th-century Castille, Duarte Gomes Solis sailed from Lisbon in

1585 for Goa, hoping to continue in Portuguese India the commer-
cial activities that his father had engaged in on the Iberian peninsula;
his journey, interrupted by a shipwreck off the coast of Mozambique,
followed by imprisonment at the hands of indigenous peoples, could
resume only when the survivors successfully gained the protec-
tion of the alferes-mor, commander of the fortress of Mozambique,
Jorge de Menezes, and it finally ended only in the spring of 1586
with his arrival in Goa.9 There Gomes Solis started a vast commercial
enterprise and also held positions important for the royal fazenda,
like that of administrador geral da pimenta, contractor of the pepper
trade monopoly, which put him in close contact with the governor
Manuel de Sousa Coutinho (1588–1591), also becoming his counsellor
in monetary matters, an experience that would become the basis for
some of his most important later writings.10
Likely because of this close relationship, Gomes Solis came to be
implicated in the investigation promoted by the viceroy Maties de
Albuquerque into the activities of Sousa Coutinho, the governor;
arrested, at the beginning of 1592 he was taken aboard the Madre
de Deus to Lisbon to be put on trial, but in August of the same year,
while navigating the waters near the Azores, the Portuguese carrack,
also laden with precious metals, was one of the five ships captured by
the English corsair Martin Frobisher, commanding a fleet fitted out by
Sir Walter Raleigh to intercept gold being transported from the East
Indies, and was brought to England. Back to Lisbon in April 1593, in
November of that year Gomes Solis left again for India, where he arrived
in the middle of 1594, which suggests that he was acquitted of the
charges brought against him.11 Having returned to Portugal in 1601,
not without a further incident of attack by English ships, he settled in
Lisbon, rich and full of experience. He married in 1604 and lived in
Lisbon until his death, which occurred around 1630; during this time
he was intensely active as an arbitrista, dealing with themes of trade,
finance, and money.12
Although the two best known works of Gomes Solis, the Discursos
sobre los comercios de las Indias (1622)13 and the Alegación en favor de la
Compañía de la India Oriental (1628),14 were published in Spanish only at
the beginning of the 1620s – amid the general climate of renewal accom-
panying Philip IV’s ascent to the throne, which led many thinkers of the
Iberian peninsula to contact the young king, advancing proposals for
the economic and political reform of the Kingdom – their writing began,
according to the author’s explicit declaration, in 1610.15 Moreover, in
The Influence of Portuguese Economic Thought 93

the case of the Discursos, the dating at the writing to the beginning of
the second decade of the 17th century, is confirmed by the presence
in the text of the transcription of three letters dated 1612, two from
the author to the Duke of Lerma and a third to the Consejo de Estado
Juan de Ciriza. Other manuscripts of the same work, also datable to the
same period but which remained unprinted, have only recently come to
light.16 This evidence of the manuscript circulation of texts by Gomes
Solis before their effective publication at this time is particularly impor-
tant for establishing a connection between the thought of Antonio Serra
and that of the Portuguese arbitrista.
A typical exponent of the world of cristaõs novos merchant bankers
and deeply involved in the economic system of the Portuguese empire,
Duarte Gomes Solis shows in his writings primarily the advantages
of creating trading companies, not without constant reference to the
thought of Botero and Bodin, indicating his interest for mercantil-
istic subjects. The point of contact with the thought of Serra, espe-
cially with the remedies set out in the second part of the Breve trattato,
however, is to be chiefly found where Gomes Solis treats the circu-
lation of money, credit, and exchange inside the peninsular system
and more precisely when he expounds the monetary measures to be
adopted in order to solve the chronical problems of silver scarcity
suffered by the Spanish empire.17
Since all nations had an absolute need of silver for their trade and
since Spain alone controlled most of the silver production that fuelled
trade in Europe, Gomes Solis held that the continuous outflow of
money from Spain was determined by silver’s high intrinsic value,
which drove foreign operators to try to obtain it in exchange for copper
or bullion coins with artificially elevated nominal value (and, according
to Gomes Solis, often false). The measure that he proposed to deal with
this phenomenon consisted, in the first place, in the monetization,
along with a strong copper alloy, of half of all the silver produced in the
empire, raising the nominal value of the money by 29% and prohib-
iting its export outside the Spanish territories and dominions. The
remaining half of the silver, kept as pure as possible, would instead be
considered as a commodity and thus freely exported; at the same time,
all the copper divisional coin and bullion would have to be removed
from the market.18 Additionally, the abundance of silver coin in circu-
lation would have facilitated exchanges and resulted in a decrease of
interest rates as well as in the disappearance of usury.19
Anticipating objections to his proposal, Gomes Solis similarly argued
that this measure (1) would not entail an increase in expenditures for
94 Gaetano Sabatini

purchasing imports since they would be reduced due to their higher

price, reorienting demand towards domestic goods; (2) would not
necessarily obligate the sovereign to pay interest on loans or to repay
their capital in the same coinage in which he received them; (3) would
lead to a reduction in the size of the land forces maintained by the
Catholic monarchy that served outside its territories and thus would
require upkeep in foreign coin, in favour of the development of naval
forces.20 It is this discussion of monetary issues that establishes an
ideal bridge between Naples and Lisbon: many of the problems facing
Duarte Gomes Solis can be found in the second and third parts of the
Breve trattato.
Indeed, as already mentioned, Serra criticized in the Breve trattato
some of the monetary policy measures taken by the Spanish govern-
ment in Naples over the preceding years; more precisely, he dedi-
cated the second part of the work to the refutation of the proposals
advanced some years earlier by Marc’Antonio de Santis in his Discorso
di Marc’Antonio de Santis intorno a gli effetti, che fa il cambio in Regno
(1605) and later accepted in a pragmática issued in June of 1607 by the
viceroy, the Count of Benavente.
This provision was meant to solve the chronic problem of the scar-
city of money by having the authorities fix a lower exchange rate for
Neapolitan coinage, or, more accurately, a lower price with respect to
that prevailing at the time on the market for foreign currency acquired
by means of bills of exchange; de Santis believed, in fact, in the exist-
ence of a cause-and-effect nexus between higher exchange and the scar-
city of money plaguing the Kingdom of Naples. In reality the measure
did not bring about the expected benefits and was abandoned in the
course of a few months.
Serra, however, was not averse to de Santis’s proposal simply because
it did not empirically work but because, in point of theory, he held
that the true cause of the outflow of money was the disequilibria in
the composition of the balance of payments. Although he was in prin-
ciple not opposed to the use of administrative measures on exchange,
he held that fixing the exchange rate alone was ineffective because
it did not affect the real causes of the problem but to the contrary
could be easily circumvented, while it would still easily create obsta-
cles that disrupt trade. Gomes Solis never reaches the elegance and
complexity of Serra’s economic reasoning, but like Serra, he held that
it was pointless to affect the lowering of the value of exchange and
captured the nexus between commercial operations and the overall
trend of exchanges.
The Influence of Portuguese Economic Thought 95

But what relationship could have existed between Antonio Serra

and Portuguese arbitrismo? To answer this question, it is necessary to
remember that at the end of the 16th century there was in Naples a
community of Portuguese cristaõs novos merchant bankers, that was
able, although not especially large in number, to achieve a prominent
social and economic position there over the course of just a few years.
Miguel Vaaz (ca. 1550, 1622), together with his brothers and in concert
with other bankers of Genoese or Flemish origins, inserted himself in
a major way into the vast financial speculation on the supplying with
wheat of the city of Naples.21
The presence of Miguel Vaaz in the Kingdom of Naples is documented
from 1585, when he comes to be paid an entretenimiento of twenty scudi
per month (increasing to thirty by 1586), for services rendered during
the period of the consolidation of the union of Portugal and Spanish
Monarchies.22 The activities that the Portuguese merchant engaged in
in Southern Italy always revolved around two geographic centres – the
capital of the Kingdom, Naples, and the Pugliese provinces – and quite
often both of the areas were linked together in the same commercial
(especially as regards the production, purchase, and sale of wheat) or
financial operations, like the payment in Naples of letters of exchange
coming from Puglia and vice versa. At the same time, Miguel Vaaz
rapidly found out how to play an important role for the families of the
Pugliese aristocracy and patriciate, carrying out important intermediary
financial functions of various kinds for them. Additionally, the opera-
tions that Miguel Vaaz carried out in these years continually intersected
with financial brokering and trade as well as the arming of merchant
ships; the growing importance of the lattermost activity is demonstrated
by his purchase, in 1601 in the port of Naples, of a ship of 2,200 salme,
equal to a load capacity of around 325 tons.23
Among Miguel Vaaz’s commercial activities, a special place was occu-
pied, as already mentioned, by the wheat trade exercised especially
within the annona, the system for provisioning the city of Naples;24 the
first documents that attest the growth of the volume of business carried
out in this area by Miguel Vaaz refer to the period around the turn of
the century. At the same time, the Portuguese banker continued to be
engaged in many financial operations in order to raise capital for the
wheat trade, especially dedicating himself to speculation tied to the
management of the Neapolitan public debt and to the system of arren-
damenti – that is, the system of contracts for the sale of the Kingdom’s
96 Gaetano Sabatini

future fiscal revenues, either those to be paid by the Kingdom’s commu-

nities or from gabelles and customs.
Miguel Vaaz then acted as intermediary in the payment of bills of
exchange on behalf of influential members of the nobility who used this
financial instrument for the collection of rents. It was likely through
this activity, together with being a merchant of luxury goods, including
slaves, high-quality wines, and fine fabrics destined for a clientele of the
highest rank,25 that Vaaz’s contacts relating to the practices of finan-
cial brokering with the representatives of the elites of the Kingdom
were strengthened and transformed into an extraordinary network of
social relations. From this perspective, one likely needs to include his
ties with the Counts of Lemos, present in the Kingdom for more than
fifteen years, first with Fernando Ruiz de Castro Andrade y Portugal,
VIth Count of Lemos, viceroy of Naples in 1599–1601, and then, after
his death, with his youngest son Francisco Fernández de Castro Andrade
y Portugal, Count di Castro, lieutenant general of the Kingdom during
1601–1603 (and later the VIIIth Count of Lemos) and finally with Pedro
Fernández de Castro Andrade y Portugal, VIIth Count of Lemos, viceroy
of Naples between 1610 and 1616.26
The first members of the linaje of the Counts of Lemos with whom
Miguel Vaaz had documented dealings are Catalina Zuñiga y Sandoval,
wife of the VIth Count of Lemos, her son Francisco de Castro and
daughter-in-law Lucrezia Gattinara of Legnano:27 Vaaz administered the
rents of Francisco de Castro and his wife.28 The same pattern – purchase
of luxury goods and financial operations – would come to be repeated
with the arrival as viceroy of Naples of Pedro Fernández de Castro, VIIth
Count of Lemos; in the year of the taking possession of the new viceroy,
1610, and probably just in relation to his transfer to Naples, Vaaz saw to
the payment for a variety of luxury goods – textiles, hangings, clothes,
and more – that Pedro de Castro and his wife, Catalina de la Cerda y
Sandoval, bought from Neapolitan merchants.29
When in June of 1610 Pedro Fernández de Castro, VIIth Count of
Lemos, arrived in Naples to assume the duties of viceroy, the Kingdom
was emerging from a cycle of grave famines, which had culminated in
1606.30 In these years, so difficult for the population of Naples, the oper-
ating cost of the annona of the city increased tremendously, so much so
that the Count himself in 1614 affirmed that during the governments
of his predecessors the expenditures for provisioning the city created
a burden of more than five million ducats31 on the patrimony of the
Kingdom, this against estimated revenues in 1612 of less than two
The Influence of Portuguese Economic Thought 97

The Count of Lemos entrusted Miguel Vaaz with reviewing the admin-
istration of Naples’s system of supply, and in a short time, as he would
later write to the viceroy, he found evidence of frauds and misman-
agements, thereby increasing the patrimony from around 300,000 to
around 550,000 ducats. He affirmed that if from then on this office was
not given to wicked men unmindful of the common good, but to a
capable and honest man, like himself, it would be possible, with the
help of an expert government, to increase the patrimony of the annona
up to a million ducats.33
Vaaz now enjoyed the almost unlimited confidence of the viceroy;
in 1610, the year of his arrival in Naples, the Count of Lemos set up
a council to deal with the monetary and financial problems of the
Kingdom. Included in this group were six bankers of foreign origins:
Giacomo Fornari and Paolo Grillo from Genoa, Benedetto Biffoli from
Florence, Pietro Cortone from Bergamo, Antonio Antopel from Flanders,
and of course Miguel Vaaz from Portugal. These in addition to the
Neapolitan high magistrate Marc’Antonio de Santis, a jurist and expert
on monetary problems, lieutenant of the Camera della Sommaria, the
Kingdom’s chief administrative body.34 The presence of de Santis guar-
anteed that the council would not act contrary to the other Neapolitan
administrative bodies, but the choice of the six foreign bankers sent a
clear message that the new viceroy did not feel himself bound by the
Kingdom’s traditionally established economic powers and that instead
he wanted to have around him a group of hombres de negocios whom
he could trust absolutely; among them, it was Miguel Vaaz who soon
showed himself capable of playing the role with the most political
weight. For example, when in 1613 the Count of Lemos intended to
intervene on the age-old problem of the state of foreign exchanges of
Neapolitan money, subject to constant downward pressure because of
the unstoppable flow of gold and silver pouring out of the Kingdom’s
borders (caused by a trade deficit and by the payment of various kinds of
rents to foreigners),35 it was the Portuguese banker who called together
a meeting with the representatives of the main foreign trading colonies
that resided in the Kingdom and who spoke, in the viceroy’s name, of
the grave disadvantages caused by currency imbalances.36
The Count of Lemos’s high opinion of Miguel Vaaz was not shared
by many of his contemporaries, not only because of the New Christian
banker’s always unscrupulous dealings in the world of Neapolitan busi-
ness, but also for using for his own benifit his close relationship with the
viceroy, for example when he acquired the fief of Mola (the viceroy to
obtain from Philip III the title of Count of Mola for him in 1613) or when
98 Gaetano Sabatini

he sold wheat of bad quality to the city of Naples during the very years
of the government of the Count of Lemos.37 In other words, during the
progress of the Count of Lemos’s rule in Naples, a gap becomes ever more
clearly present between the almost unlimited faith that the viceroy placed
in Vaaz, whom he raised to the rank of his chief adviser, especially with
respect to the management of the Kingdom’s economic resources and the
reform of its financial institutions, and the hostility that this privileged
position generated among the Neapolitan ruling elite, the other bankers
(above all the Genoese ones), and the aristocracy, particularly after the
elevation of Miguel Vaaz to the dignity of count.
The hostility towards Vaaz and the aversion generated by the esteem
in which he was held by the viceroy are clearly manifest in 1614–1615
in the clash between the Count of Lemos and the aristocracy over privi-
leges of a fiscal nature. The story, reconstructed by Isabel Enciso in
her monograph on the Count of Lemos,38 is here retraced insofar as it
involved the Portuguese merchant.
In 1614 the viceroy tried to unify in the royal treasury the collec-
tion of the customs duties of Naples, which were until then divided
between the royal treasury and the city. The measure promoted by the
viceroy would not have injured the city, which would have continued
to collect the same income that it previously enjoyed without having
to deal directly with the management of the customs, but it directly
harmed the interests of those who had invested money in the purchase
of the fiscal income that originated in the collection of the city’s duties –
in other words the interests of the urban aristocracy.39 The decision to
combine the gabelle on the entry and exit of merchandise to and from
the city of Naples in the hands of the royal fisc was in effect an expres-
sion of the attempt to make fiscal administration more efficient at a
time when the hacienda of the Kingdom of Naples appears to be particu-
larly suffering.40
With the same intention of alleviating the economic problems of the
Kingdom, the viceroy advanced a second proposal, which was intended
by the Count of Lemos to put an end to speculation on real estate and to
the thoughtless growth of the population of the capital, but it came to
be interpreted on the part of the aristocratic class as an attack.41 In this
case, the viceroy had revived and harshened already existing regulations
on the construction of new houses not conforming to the current stand-
ards, decreeing that where the prohibitions had not been respected,
they would be charged fines, which in the treasury’s expectations would
secure for the hacienda a yearly income of nearly 100,000 ducats, but
since those receiving these sanctions would primarily be the great noble
The Influence of Portuguese Economic Thought 99

settlements of Naples’s city centre, this measure was also soon branded
as anti-aristocratic in spirit.42
Finally, almost at the same time as the two provisions already
mentioned, the Count of Lemos carried out a third, concerning the
supply of water for the city of Naples, and in particular a water source
located about eight kilometres north of the city on lands that belonged
to the Benedictine monastery of Ss. Severino and Sossio: the city had
tried to buy the spring by ratifying its right of ownership over it, but
this was prevented by the intervention of the Consiglio Collaterale, the
highest political advisory body in the Kingdom, chaired by the viceroy
himself; the Consiglio Collaterale prevented the city from making an
agreement with the monks, but it allowed the royal treasury to reach
a compromise with the churchmen if this was necessary for securing a
water supply for the city.43
It should be noted that ownership of the spring was once again a matter
that related to provisioning the city since its control made possible the
construction close to the city of new mills capable of grinding as much
as 5,000 tomoli of grain every day, thereby avoiding the dangers – as
well as the frauds and thefts – associated with transporting grain to mills
farther away, in the neighbouring localities of Torre Annunziata, Scafati,
and so on. Furthermore, the city had spent more than 40,000 ducats to
build the aqueduct that would have channelled water from the spring,
without the contribution of the viceroy and Consiglio Collaterale, who
were now intervening to stop a deal it had already made with the fathers
at San Severino.44
The urban nobility, gathered in the Seggi, representing the municipal
organization of Naples, rose up, and a group of aristocrats – with inter-
ests both in customs duties and in new constructions – led by Carlo
Caracciolo and the prince of Avellino asked the viceroy to withdraw
his decision or to give them a special permission to bring their griev-
ances directly to the court in Madrid. Even though he was willing to
concede that the treasury’s demands had been excessive in the water
incident, the viceroy, strongly supported by some of his most prominent
advisers, such as Fulvio Di Constanzo, member of the council of the
Cancelleria, the Marquis of Corleto, and of course Miguel Vaaz, decided
to take an extremely firm stance in line with the traditionally adopted
policy concerning the Consiglio Collaterale, and denied the legitimacy
of the request. The dissident aristocrats, however, on 22 and 23 August
1614, called together the Seggi and having obtained the support of some
fifty members of the city’s patriciate chose the duke of Bovino, Jeronimo
de Guevara, to serve as their ambassador to the court.45 The viceroy, in
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turn, reacted by getting 108 members of the urban patriciate to sign a

document that called for Jeronimo de Guevara’s mission to be immedi-
ately blocked.46
The protest of the aristocrats was not, however, directed only against
the Count of Lemos but also against the one who was considered the
instigator of these and many other acts of the government of the viceroy,
namely Miguel Vaaz. Among the various issues that the dissidents
brought to the attention of the viceroy in the document demanding
licence to send an ambassador to Madrid, there was also in fact the
demand that the administration of the real hacienda be entrusted only
to representatives of the city (namely the same urban aristocrats) and
to the king’s ministers, not to private persons, and especially that the
Count of Mola, Miguel Vaaz, be excluded: “que no se entremeta en admin-
istrar el peculio de la ciudad ninguna persona que tenga tratos y contratos,
espacialmente el Conde de Mola, e que este gobierno se dexe a los Ministros de
la Ciudad que asistan a el con intervención de los Ministros regios”.47
But since when had the Count of Mola taken to nonchalantly managing
public funds? The steps of his approach to the Count of Lemos are retraced
in the statement written against Vaaz: curiously, his closeness with other
members of the same family, which also seems to have been well known,
is not recorded, but his link with the viceroy through the lieutenant of
the Camera della Sommaria Juan Alonso Suarez is identified.48 Suarez,
who at the very top of the Kingdom’s chief administrative tribunal was
also directly responsible for the management of the royal patrimony, had
presented Vaaz to the Count of Lemos as a person willing to collaborate
in bringing order to the Kingdom’s financial management.49
From another point of view, it was the Count of Lemos himself,
intending to deal as soon as possible with the hacienda’s grave state of
indebtedness,50 who sought the help of expert counsellors and, as he
wrote, the New Christian merchant was recommended to him by the
Duke of Vietri, in his capacity as grasero in charge, the citizen magis-
trate tasked with running the annona of Naples, and his predecessor, the
Marquis of Corleto, knowing of Vaaz’s uncommon ability in supplying
the city with wheat, affirmed that “todo lo que no è hallarse en Santo Lorenço
con nosotros el Conde de Mola es perder tiempo”, with the Basilica of San
Lorenzo being the place where the Seggi convened and thus where the
business of the city administration was settled.51 Once he had gained the
Count of Lemos’s confidence, Vaaz, according to his detractors, tried to
make Suarez look bad in the eyes of the viceroy, accusing him, according
to an audit of the accounts, of having cost the treasury 200,000 ducats
through errors in the administration of fiscal revenues; he freed himself
The Influence of Portuguese Economic Thought 101

of other opponents in the same way and forced all of the viceroy’s chief
interlocutors to deal with him in the affairs of state.52
The reforms in accounting and the financial administration of the
Kingdom that the Count of Lemos brought about at the suggestion
of Vaaz are well known,53 but each reform brought with it a dose of
discontent that ultimately focused on the New Christian merchant.
For example, the creation of the Cassa Militare, designed to stream-
line the payment of the militias and subject to the control of the
Kingdom general treasury, inevitably brought with it the hostility
of the general treasurer, who saw this measure as diminishing the
importance of his own office; analogously, and again with reference
to the creation of the Cassa Militare, to organize the payment of
salaries to the Kingdom’s soldiers, he required them to declare their
past remunerations to the fisc, before their new ones would be paid,
and this measure too caused no little resentment.54 Notwithstanding
these reforms, defending against the threat of the Turkish fleet and
maintaining the troops engaged in wars in Lombardy continued
to weigh heavily on the state coffers, in the amount of more than
500,000 ducats, obliging the hacienda to have recourse to new and
more burdensome loans with foreign bankers.55
In effect, parallel to the intervention on the administrative machinery,
Vaaz suggested to the Count of Lemos that he proceed with a drastic
reduction of the weight sustained by the state for the public debt by
lowering the rate of interest paid; this measure, which was made even
more restrictive by refusing to pay back the capital to those who would
not accept the lower rate, aroused the strong opposition of the holders
of the public debt, who later succeeded in obtaining a concession from
the sovereign that there was no obligation to accept such an imposi-
tion.56 The choices in relation to managing the sale of income from the
public debt is a particularly thorny issue because it has repercussions
on the stability and social cohesion of the Kingdom. The king’s inter-
vention sought to ensure the strengthening of internal consensus; the
Neapolitan aristocracy, in fact, believed that the measure taken by the
viceroy would have excessively penalized their patrimony, while Vaaz,
the measure’s promoter, continued to support the policy of lowering the
interest rate, arguing that, given the small share of the assets possessed
by the local nobility, the damage would not have been excessive for the
Neapolitan bankers, while the state finances would earn a substantial
gain on the rendite sold to foreign merchants and bankers.57
As the phrase referring to the Duke of Vietri and the Marquis of
Corleto indicates, before the arrival of the Count of Lemos, Vaaz
102 Gaetano Sabatini

participated informally in the city administration, or, more precisely, in

the supplying of all edible goods (grassa), as well as in the collection of
city revenues (peculio), which, as mentioned, took place in a room of the
convent annexed to the Basilica of San Lorenzo. Once continuity had
been established with the viceroy, his role only came to be strengthened:
Vaaz’s presence – not incidentally called the “leaven” of every piece of
business – became the norm among the administrators who dealt with
the city’s grassa and peculio and his opinion, although purely advisory,
was nonetheless held in the highest esteem, especially by the viceroy
himself.58 Seeing its power more strongly limited by the awkward pres-
ence of the New Christian merchant was the old aristocracy of the Seggi
(“seats”), so-called for the privilege of sitting in the municipal council,
by means of which the great families of the Neapolitan nobility tradi-
tionally managed the city’s resources, and certainly not to their own
So this was the context, on the occasion of the 1614 protest against
the measures adopted by the viceroy, in which the request to distance
Vaaz from the management of public funds developed along with the
attempt to send Jeronimo de Guevara on a mission to Madrid. From
letters written to Montoya de Cardona, member of the Consejo de Italia
in Madrid, we know how Vaaz reacted to the accusation made against
him, although always with the declared intention of supporting the
viceroy’s action: he accused the Seggi of having been transformed from
an expression of the city’s good government into tools of oppression
and declared the members who sat in them seditious subjects who were
not acting for the common good and in service of the king but were
instead inspired by their own personal interests; so for every city seat,
Vaaz provided a list of the chosen members, reckoning each of them “el
mas infame y de peor calidad y costumbre y de menor substancia”.59 In the
case of Jeronimo de Guevara’s mission, then, he identified the responsi-
bility of a small number of members – Carlo Carafa for the Seggio of the
Quartiere di Nilo, Muzio Carmignano for the Seggio of the Quartiere di
Montagna, Carlo Antonio Capece Zurlo for the Seggio of the Quartiere di
Capuana, all held responsible for grave crimes – who had deceived the
other members.60
But Vaaz never failed to praise the political foresight of his patron,
whose prudence in governing the Kingdom had guaranteed a general
level of prosperity, both in the supply of foodstuffs and in limiting the
fraud and usury that enriched only shopkeepers and barons; before
the arrival of the Count of Lemos – and thus, implicitly, of his own
arrival – in the Neapolitan government, speculators on the price of
The Influence of Portuguese Economic Thought 103

wheat obtained high profits, artificially keeping the price of wheat

between 50 or 60 carlini per tomolo in the provinces and between 25
and 30 carlini per tomolo in Naples, while during the government of
the Count of Lemos, price controls kept the price between 10 and 12
carlini in the provinces and between 4 and 6 in the capital, an 80%
But while the clash between the viceroy and the aristocracy was still
raging, in May 1615 news arrived that the Count of Lemos would not be
given a mandate to serve another mandate of three years in Naples and
that his departure loomed in the middle of 1616, which awakened in Vaaz
the not unreasonable concern that this decision could signal not only
a loss of the sovereign’s favour towards his representative but also the
beginning of the end of his own fortunes.62 Vaaz’s worries proved more
than justified because while the departure of the Count of Lemos from
Naples resolved many of the controversies that the viceroy had stirred
up, it also increased the pressure on the New Christian merchant.
The document written up against Miguel Vaaz in 1616, a little before
or after the turnover of viceroys in Naples, reflects a kind of posthu-
mous absolution of the work of the Count of Lemos, with most of his
mistakes put squarely on the back of the New Christian merchant. As
such, the list of things to which Vaaz had to answer grew longer: in addi-
tion to the charge of having abused his influence over the viceroy and
having been seated illegitimately in the tribunal of San Lorenzo, cleverly
manipulating things in such a way as to fix the prices of foodstuffs for
his own profit, Vaaz was held guilty of the reduction of the number of
ships arriving in Naples, in order to thereby exercise a monopoly on
the transport and sale of goods, which were bought in foreign markets
and sold at higher prices. In a similar way, Vaaz was accused of forcing
Pugliese producers to provide grain at below market price so that he
could reap big profits from selling their product in Naples; in this way,
he was able to root out the competition, even causing Ascanio Delia, a
business rival who refused to give in to his blackmail, to be put on trial
with false accusations.63
Because of Miguel Vaaz’s deceptive actions, “many dangers of strife
and rioting occurred”,64 says the anonymous author of the 1616 docu-
ment, which stirred up anxiety and divided the nobility into factions,
setting a bad example for the people and creating tragic consequences for
the city. Although hated by most, Vaaz, thanks to his economic power,
was able to bring over to his cause not only “knights, who perhaps were
standing closer to him out of fondness”65 but also the viceroy himself,
who, out of gratitude for the diligent commitment the New Christian
104 Gaetano Sabatini

banker had lavished on the Kingdom’s business, felt obligated to defend

him, seeing that “he provoked hatred by having served him, since before
he was loved or at least not hated”.66
If the Count of Lemos felt obliged to show gratitude to Vaaz, all the
more so in his debt were those aristocrats whose positions depended on
the viceroy and who were unable to leave the favour of his most trusted
adviser, like the Prince of San Severo “in debt up to his eyes and also with
interests in the wheat trade”; the Duke of Monteleone “obligated to the
house of Lemos in many respects as everyone knows”; or finally Tiberio
Carafa, “the widower of the lady Giulia Orsini, from which marriage he
retains the title of Prince of Bisignano, and who depends for his food on
the will of judges, on the viceroy, and others”.67
Hostility against Miguel Vaaz reached its peak in the months
following the entrance in Naples of the new viceroy and was healed
with the persecution that the Duke of Osuna, lined up on the opposite
side of the Count of Lemos in the struggle between the factions at the
court of Philip III, unleashed against all of the closest associates of his
predecessor;68 conspicuous among them was Miguel Vaaz, whom the
Duke of Osuna suspected of having tried to thwart his coming to Naples
and who himself at the moment of the new viceroy’s arrival was publicly
accused by the Neapolitan municipal organization of having sold the
city spoiled or low quality grain.69 On 4 May 1617, the viceroy Duke of
Osuna ordered the arrest of Miguel Vaaz.

For the crucial role played in all the economic and financial ques-
tions of the Kingdom of Naples at least in the years between 1610 and
1616, namely those of the government of the VIIth Count of Lemos, it
is certain that Miguel Vaaz, through his emissaries, received a copy of
everything that could be found, both in print and manuscript, in the
principal European markets on the subject of finance, money, exchange,
supply, production, trade, and so on. And certainly because of his
origins and contacts with Portugal, he would not have missed what was
produced on these subjects within the ambit of Lusitanian arbitrismo.
It is most likely, then, that even the writings of Mendes de Vasconcelos
and Duarte Gomes Solis circulated in Naples in the years in which Serra
was writing the Breve trattato and their content was known.
But is this enough to establish contact between Miguel Vaaz and
Antonio Serra? It is possible to make some hypotheses about it. The
first is that Vaaz should have been aware of the fact that Serra was
The Influence of Portuguese Economic Thought 105

preparing a treatise of an economic character, not only because of the

limited dimensions of the intellectual circles in the Naples of the early
17th century but also because of the practice common, at that time, that
the texts, before going into print, often many years after their compo-
sition, enjoyed an ample and sustained circulation in manuscript; the
second hypothesis is that Vaaz was not indifferent to this news – to
the contrary, he did not look kindly on others wanting to present the
viceroy with remedies for the Kingdom’s economic troubles, given his
position as the principle and nearly only adviser to the Count of Lemos;
the third hypothesis is that Vaaz was sufficiently unscrupulous to try to
eliminate a potential rival by constructing false accusations against him
(something for which, as was already mentioned, Vaaz actually came to
be accused).
To corroborate the hypothesis of a less than benevolent relationship
between Vaaz and Serra, there is also the fact that, as mentioned, the
second part of the Breve trattato is essentially dedicated to refuting the
proposals concerning money advance some years earlier by Marc’Antonio
de Santis in the Discorso of 1605 and subsequently accepted by the viceroy
of Naples, the Count of Benavente, in June of 1607.70 These measures,
largely corresponding with those that Vaaz would again present during
the government of the Count of Lemos, aimed at reducing the exchange
rate of the Neapolitan ducat in order to attract foreign currency to the
Kingdom, but they were quickly abandoned since they resulted in the
opposite effect; in other words, because he was ultimately discussing
the same measure, Serra, criticizing de Santis, was also putting on trial
the monetary measures suggested by Vaaz.
If these assumptions are true, it partially changes the interpretation
of the two dispatches sent from the viceroy’s secretariat to the regent
of the Vicaria prison on 11 November 1612 and 27 May 1614, which
have been published by Amabile, that have made it possible to affirm
with certainty that on these dates, and so before and after the publi-
cation of the Breve trattato, Serra was really locked in prison;71 these
documents need to be understood in the sense that Vaaz managed to
put Serra in prison before the publication of his volume, even if he was
unable to impede its release, perhaps in the meantime already sent to
a printer, and that the charges were fabricated by putting in Serra’s
dwelling materials for counterfeiting coins, materials that must none-
theless have been meagre or doubtful, since the anonymous redactor
of the 1614 dispatch describes them, with a bit of evident scepticism,
as “ese pedacito de oro o alquimia” – that is, as that little piece of gold or
product of alchemy.72
106 Gaetano Sabatini

Only further thorough and systematic research in the Neapolitan

archives might be able to lead to the discovery of documents that prove
some form of direct contact or relationship between Serra and Antonio
Miguel Vaaz.

1. After the 1613 Neapolitan edition, the Breve trattato was republished in
Custodi, P. (ed.), Scrittori classici italiani di economia politica, parte antica, vol.
l, Milan: Destefanis, 1803, pp. 1–179; Graziani, A. (ed.), Economisti del Cinque
e Seicento, Bari: Laterza, 1913, pp. 141–235; Colapietra, R. (ed.), Problemi
monetari negli scrittori napoletani del Seicento, Rome: Accademia dei Lincei,
1973, pp. 163–228 (other more recent editions follow).
2. For a critical framework for Serra’s work, cfr. De Rosa, L., Economisti meridi-
onali, Naples: Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici, 1995, pp. 9–32;
Roncaglia, A. (ed.), Alle origini del pensiero economico in Italia. Moneta e
sviluppo negli economisti napoletani dei secoli XVII–XVIII, Bologna: Il Mulino,
1995 (especially Rosselli, A., Antonio Serra e la teoria dei cambi, pp. 37–58);
Roncaglia, A., “Antonio Serra”, in Rivista italiana degli economisti, 1999, 4,
pp. 421–438; Reinert, S.A., “Introduction”, in Antonio Serra, A Short Treatise
on the Wealth and Poverty of Nations (1613), London and New Delhi: Anthem,
2011, pp. 1–93.
3. Bastien, C., A divisão da historia do pensamento económico português em períodos,
Working Paper n° 16, GHES, Gabinete de Historia Económica e Social, ISEG,
Lisbon: 2000, p. 9.
4. Lisbon: Oficina de Luys Estupiñan, 1608; successive editions: 1786, 1803,
1974, 1990, and, nearly complete, in Sergio, A. (ed.), Antologia dos economistas
portugueses, Lisbon: Biblioteca Nacional, 1924, vol. I, the edition that has
most contributed to knowledge of this work among contemporary scholars.
5. On Mendes de Vasconcelos, see Bastien, 2000, pp. 9–10; Magalhães, J.C.,
História do Pensamento Económico em Portugal. Da Idade Média ao Mercantilismo,
Coimbra: Coimbra Editora, 1967, pp. 183–196.
6. Mendes de Vasconcelos, 1608, pp. 95–113.
7. Ibid., pp. 125–130; see also Curto, D.R., O discurso político em Portugal (1600–
1650), Lisbon: Centro de Estudos de História e Cultura Portuguesa, 1988,
pp. 195–196.
8. Mendes de Vasconcelos, 1608, pp. 4–5, 73–74.
9. Magalhães, 1967, pp. 513–514.
10. Ibid., p. 514.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid., p. 515.
13. Original edition without place of publication; republished in the edition of
Amzalak, M.B., Lisbon: Gráfica Lisbonense, 1943.
14. Original edition without place of publication (Lisbon: n.p., 1628) repub-
lished in the edition of Amzalak, M.B., Lisbon: Império, 1955.
15. Gomes Solis, 1622, p. 60.
The Influence of Portuguese Economic Thought 107

16. Bourdon, L., “Mémoires inédits de Duarte Gomes Solis”, in Anais do

Instituto Superior de Ciencias Economicas e Financieras, vol. XXIII, 1955, vol. 1,
pp. 110–164.
17. A general overview of the work of Gomes Solis, among others, may be found
in Torgal, L.R., Ideologia Política e Teoria do Estado na Restauração, Coimbra:
Biblioteca Geral da Universidade de Coimbra, 1981, vol. I, pp. 397–399, and
Studnicki-Gizbert, D., A Nation upon the Ocean Sea: Portugal’s Atlantic Diaspora
and the Crisis of the Spanish Empire, 1492–1640, Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2007, pp. 134–138.
18. Bourdon, 1955, pp. 120, 131, 149; Magalhães, 1967, p. 201.
19. Bourdon, 1955, pp. 150–151; Gomes Solis, 1628, p. 229.
20. Bourdon, 1955, pp. 121–125.
21. On Miguel Vaaz, as well as for previously published literature, see Sabatini,
G., “The Vaaz: Rise and Fall of a Family of Portuguese Bankers in Spanish
Naples (1590–1660)”, in The Journal of European Economic History, vol. XXIXX,
2010, pp. 623–655; Id., “Un mercato conteso: banchieri portoghesi alla
conquista della Napoli dei genovesi (1590–1650)”, in Herrero Sánchez, M.,
Y.R. Ben Yessef Garfía, C. Bitossi, and D. Puncuh (eds), Génova y la Monarquía
Hispánica (1528–1713), Genoa: Atti della società ligure di Storia Patria, Nuova
serie, vol. LI, 2011, pp. 141–170; Id. “From Alliance to Conflict, from Finance
to Justice: a Portuguese Family in Spanish Naples (1590–1660)”, in Cardim,
P., T. Herzog, J.J. Ruiz Ibáñez, G. Sabatini (eds), Polycentrics Monarchies: How
Did Early Modern Spain And Portugal Achieve And Maintain A Global Hegemony?,
Brighton: Sussex Academy Press, 2012, pp. 91–107; Huerga Criado, P.,
“Cristianos nuevos de origen ibérico en el Reino de Nápoles en el siglo XVII”,
in Sefarad, LXXII, 2012, pp. 351–387; Crivelli, B. and G.Sabatini, “La carrera
de un mercader judeoconverso en el Nápoles español. Negocios y relaciones
políticas de Miguel Vaaz (1590–1616)”, soon to appear in Hispania. Despite
the promising title, Mazur, P.A., The New Christians of Spanish Naples, 1528–
1671, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007, provides no new knowledge and,
inexplicably, does not take account of the most recent studies published on
the topic.
22. Al virrey de Nápoles de Alaminos a 6 de febrero de 1585. Entretenimiento de 20
escudos al mes en Nápoles a Miguel Vaez Portugués, Archivo General de Simancas
(AGS), Estado, leg. 1088, doc. 24, Acrecentamiento de 10 escudos el entreten-
imiento de 20 que Miguel Vaez tiene en Nápoles. En San [?] a primero de Agosto de
1586, Estado, leg. 1088, doc. n. 165.
23. A Michele Vaez 19–10–1601, Archivio Storico del Banco di Napoli (ASBN),
Banco San Giacomo, giornale copiapolizze di banco.
24. On the Neapolitan Annona, see Coniglio, G., “Annona e calmieri nella
Napoli spagnola”, in Archivio Storico per le Province Napoletane, LXV, 1940,
pp. 105–194; Id., “Note sulla storia della politica annonaria dei viceré spag-
noli a Napoli”, in Archivio Storico per le Province Napoletane, LXVI, 1941,
pp. 274–282; Id., “L’Annona”, in Storia di Napoli, vol. V, t. II, Naples: Società
Editrice Storia di Napoli, 1972, pp. 691–718; Alifano, E., Il grano, il pane e la
politica annonaria a Napoli nel Settecento, Naples: ESI, 1996; Fenicia, G., Politica
economia e realtà mercantile nel regno di Napoli nella prima metà del XVI secolo
(1503–1556), Bari: Cacucci, 1996; Papagna, E., “Napoli e le città del grano
nel Mezzogiorno spagnolo”, in Società e storia, XX, 1997, n. 75, pp. 127–142;
108 Gaetano Sabatini

Sabatini, G., “Carlo Tapia e le proposte di riforma dell’annona e delle finanze

municipali nel regno di Napoli alla fine del XVI secolo”, in Storia Economica,
I, 1998, pp. 121–140; Id., “‘Il pane di Cerbero’. Aspetti di politica annonaria
e demografica nel Regno di Napoli nell’età di Filippo II”, in Martinez Millan,
J. (ed.), Felipe II (1598–1998). Europa y la Monarquia Catolica, vol. I, Madrid:
Editorial Parteluz, 1998, pp. 767–776; Sabatini, G., “Carlo Tapia y el abas-
tecimiento de grano en Nápoles”, in Martínez Millán, J. and Visceglia M.A.
(eds), La monarquía de Felipe III, La Corte, vol. III, Madrid: Fundacíon Mapfre,
2008, pp. 931–934.
25. A Fra Vincenzo de Ponte 18–08–1601, ASBN, Banco San Giacomo, giornale
copiapolizze di banco.
26. On the lineage of the counts of Lemos, see Enciso Alonso-Muñumer, I.,
Nobleza, poder y mecenazgo en tiempo de Filipe III. Nápoles y el Conde e Lemos,
Madrid: Actas editorial, 2007, and on Francisco Fernández de Castro in partic-
ular, Favarò, V., Carriere in movimento. Francisco Ruiz de Castro e la Monarchia di
Filippo III, Palermo: Mediterranea – Studi e ricerche, 2013.
27. A Michele Vaez 07–01–1603 and A Michele Vaez 28–09–1610, ASBN, Banco San
Giacomo, giornale copiapolizze di banco.
28. A Ferrante Morfino 07–07–1605, ASBN, Banco San Giacomo, giornale
copiapolizze di banco; A Epifanio Iubeno 28–04–1603, ASBN, Banco Spirito
Santo, giornale copiapolizze di banco, A Andres de Tovalina 25–10–1601 and A
Michele Vaez 03–04–1603, ASBN, Banco San Giacomo, giornale copiapolizze
di banco. A Michele Vaez 26–02–1607, ASBN, Banco Spirito Santo, giornale
copiapolizze di banco.
29. A Michele Vaaz 28–10–1610, ASBN, Banco San Giacomo, giornale copiapolizze
di banco.
30. Coniglio, G., Il viceregno di Napoli nel sec. XVII. Notizie sulla vita commerciale e
finanziaria secondo nuove ricerche negli archivi italiani e spagnoli, Rome: Edizioni
di Storia e Letteratura, 1955, pp. 149–155; Colapietra, R., Il governo spag-
nolo nell’Italia meridionale (Napoli dal 1580 al 1648), Naples: Società Editrice
Storia di Napoli, 1972, pp. 195–200; Zotta, S., “Momenti e problemi di una
crisi agraria in uno ‘Stato’ feudale napoletano (1585–1615)”, in Melanges de
l’École Française de Rome, Moyen Age – Temps Modernes, vol. XC, 1978, no. 2,
pp. 715–779; De Rosa, L., Il Mezzogiorno spagnolo tra crescita e decadenza,
Milan: Il Saggiatore, 1987, pp. 71–88, 110–127.
31. Carta de Pedro Fernández de Castro, VII conde de Lemos, sobre la oposición y apoyo
a su gobierno, Napoli, 8 de deciembre de 1614, Biblioteca Nazionale di Napoli
(BNN), Manoscritti Brancacciani, V B 10, 16 r-v.
32. Sabatini, G., “La spesa militare nel contesto della finanza pubblica napoletana
del XVII secolo”, in Cancila, R. (ed.), Mediterraneo in armi (secc. XV–XVIII),
Quaderni di “Mediterranea”, no. 4, Palermo: 2007, vol. II, pp. 593–635, espe-
cially p. 599.
33. Carta del conde de Mola al regente Montoya, 20 de mayo de 1615, BNN,
Manoscritti Brancacciani, V B 10, fls. 108 r-v.
34. Brancaccio, G., “Nazione genovese”. Consoli e colonia nella Napoli moderna,
Guida, Naples: 2001, pp. 113–114. On the figure of Marc’Antonio de Santis,
jurist as well as attentive student of economic phenomena affecting the
Kingdom of Naples and author of the celebrated Discorso intorno a gli effetti
The Influence of Portuguese Economic Thought 109

che fa il cambio in Regno (1605), see Colapietra (ed.), 1973, and De Rosa, L.
(ed.), Il Mezzogiorno agli inizi del Seicento, Rome-Bari: Laterza, 1994.
35. On this, see De Rosa, L., I cambi esteri a Napoli dal 1591 al 1707, Naples: Banco
di Napoli, 1955.
36. Brancaccio, 2001, p. 115.
37. Miguel Vais e le sue pregiudiziali invenzioni 1610–1616, BNN, Manoscritti, X 10
B 65; on both of these aspects, see Sabatini, 2011.
38. Enciso Alonso-Muñumer, 2007, pp. 383–404.
39. Carta de Pedro Fernández de Castro, VII conde de Lemos, sobre la oposición y
apoyo a su gobierno, Nápoles, 8 de diciembre de 1614, BNN, Manoscritti
Brancacciani, V B 10, fl. 18r. On the system of customs in the Kingdom of
Naples in the age of Spanish dominion, see Bianchini, L., Storia delle finanze
del Regno delle due Sicilie, ed. by L. De Rosa, Naples: ESI, 1971 (original edition,
Naples: 1859), pp. 257–261.
40. Miguel Vais e le sue pregiudiziali invenzioni 1610–1616, BNN, Manoscritti, X 10
B 65 (at fl. 3 for the citation).
41. On Naples’s demographic growth around the end of the 16th century and
start of the 17th, with special reference to problems of supply, see Sabatini,
42. Carta de Pedro Fernández de Castro, VII conde de Lemos, sobre la oposición y apoyo
a su gobierno, Napoli, 8 deciembre 1614, BNN, Manoscritti Brancacciani, V B
10, fl. 19r.
43. Ibid., fl. 20r.
44. On the arrangement of Neapolitan aqueducts at the start of the 17th
century and on the city’s water supply problems, see the synthetic work
of Montuono, G.M., “L’approvvigionamento idrico della città di Napoli.
L’acquedotto del Serino e il Formale Reale in un manoscritto della Biblioteca
Nazionale di Madrid”, in D’Agostino, S. (ed.), Storia dell’Ingegneria. Atti del
2° Convegno Nazionale, Napoli, 7–8-9 aprile 2008, Naples: Associazione Italia
di Storia dell’Ingegneria, 2008, vol. II, pp. 1029–1050, especially pp. 1038–
1041, which makes use among other things of a very interesting anony-
mous Neapolitan manuscript from around 1610 entitled El servicio de aguas
en Nápoles conserved in the Biblioteca Nacional de Madrid (BNM), ms 9610,
45. Carta de Pedro Fernández de Castro, VII conde de Lemos, sobre la oposición y apoyo
a su gobierno, Napoli, 8 de deciembre de 1614, BNN, Manoscritti Brancacciani,
V B 10, passim.
46. Jeronimo de Guevara was described by supporters of the ambassadorial
mission as “a persona di gran lignaggio, di segnalata virtù, versato in altre
ambascerie per la sua religione a Roma, alla Magna alla maestà cesarea in
Francia al Cristianissimo è stato causatore dell’elezione del suo Gran Maestro,
ed in corte ben conosciuto, e con riscontro che egli ha con il segretario
Baldarana per servitio fattogli in “persona di suo figlio dell’istesso abito”
(Miguel Vais e le sue pregiudiziali invenzioni, BNN, ms. X B 65, fl. 5r); this
eulogistic description should be contrasted with the disparaging one of him
made by Miguel Vaaz, who instead insists upon the fact that Jeronimo was
the son of Inigo de Guevara, who had in the past been forced to leave the
Kingdom on account of positions that he took against the viceroy’s policy
and that Jeronimo himself had a mercenary disposition, and was persuaded
110 Gaetano Sabatini

to complete the mission to Madrid upon payment of 15,000 or 20,000

ducats, a circumstance that helped in characterizing the whole undertaking
as venal: Carta del conde de Mola al regente Montoya, 8 de deciembre de 1614,
BNN, Manoscritti Brancacciani, V B 10, fls. 36v-37r.
47. Carta de Pedro Fernández de Castro, VII conde de Lemos, sobre la oposición y apoyo
a su gobierno, Napoli, 8 deciembre 1614, BNN, Manoscritti Brancacciani, V B
10, fl. 15v.
48. Juan Alonso Suarez, appointed in 1602 lieutenant of the Camera della
Sommaria, the highest administrative court of Justice of the Kingdom of
Naples, participated in this capacity in the inspection of offices conducted
by Juan de Herrera in the years of the government in Naples of the count
of Benaventa and was then, at the behest of the count of Lemos, put in
charge of the Consiglio Collaterale (Coniglio, 1955, p. 159; Comparato, V.I.,
Uffici e società a Napoli, 1600–1647, Florence: Olschki, 1974, p. 116; Intorcia,
G.,Magistrature del Regno di Napoli. Analisi prosopografica, secoli XVI–XVII,
Naples: Jovene, 1987, pp. 229, 384).
49. Miguel Vais e le sue pregiudiziali invenzioni 1610–1616, BNN, manoscritto X B
65, fl. 3.
50. Ibid.
51. Carta de Pedro Fernández de Castro, VII conde de Lemos, sobre la oposición y apoyo
a su gobierno, Napoli, 8 de deciembre de 1614, BNN, Manoscritti Brancacciani,
V B 10, fl.16r.
52. Miguel Vais e le sue pregiudiziali invenzioni 1610–1616, BNN, Manoscritti, X B
65, fl. 3r and v.
53. Galasso, G., Alla periferia dell’impero. Il Regno di Napoli nel periodo spagnolo
(secc. XVI–XVII), Turin: Einaudi, 1994, pp. 157–184; Enciso Alonso-Muñumer,
2007, pp. 420–448; Sabatini, 2011, pp. 155–157.
54. Ibidem.
55. Carta del conde de Mola al regente Montoya, 8 de deciembre de 1614, BNN,
Manoscritti Brancacciani, V B 10, fl. 38v. The rate of interest for the asientos
was calculated at 14%.
56. Coniglio, 1955, pp. 159–199; Sabatini, 2011, p. 157.
57. According to a statement of Michael Vaaz in his petition, the lowering of
interest rates would have weighed down the patrimony of the Neapolitan
nobles only in the amount of 19,000 ducats, while it would guarantee the
state a savings of 95,000. Moreover, the renegotiation of interest on the
public debt would guarantee the aristocracy the ability to resell their assets
to obtain a relative gain. Carta del conde de Mola al regente Montoya, 8 de
diciembre de 1614, Manoscritti Brancacciani, V B 10, fl. 40r. On the subject
of public debt in the Kingdom of Naples, see Mantelli, R., L’alienazione della
rendita pubblica e i suoi acquirenti dal 1556 al 1583 nel Regno di Napoli, Bari:
Cacucci, 1997 and Sabatini, G., “Nel sistema imperiale spagnolo: il debito
pubblico napoletano nella prima età moderna”, in De Luca, G. and Moioli A.
(eds) Debito pubblico e mercati finanziari in Italia, secoli XII–XX, Milan: Franco
Angeli, 2007, pp. 287–304.
58. Carta de Pedro Fernández de Castro, VII conde de Lemos, sobre la oposición y apoyo
a su gobierno, Napoli, 8 de deciembre de 1614, Manoscritti Brancacciani, V B 10,
fl. 19r.
The Influence of Portuguese Economic Thought 111

59. Carta del conde de Mola al regente Montoya, 8 de diciembre de 1614, Manoscritti
Brancacciani, V B 10, fl. 33v.
60. Ibid.
61. Ibid, fl. 34v.
62. Carta del conde de Mola al regente Montoya, 20 de mayo de 1615, BNN,
Manoscritti Brancacciani, V B 10, fls. 108r-v.
63. Michele Vais e le sue pregiudizievoli invenzioni, 1610–1616, BNN, manoscritto X
B 65, fl. 9r.
64. Ibid., fl. 13r.
65. Ibid., fl. 10v.
66. Ibid., fl. 11r.
67. Ibid., fl. 10v.
68. On the duke of Osuna, see Linde, L.M., Don Pedro Girón, Duque de Osuna, la
hegemonía española en Europa a comienzos del siglo XVII, Madrid: Encuentro,
2005, and on his government in Naples, see Schipa, M., La pretesa fellonia
del Duca d’Ossuna (1619–1620), Naples: Pierro, 1911, and Colapietra, 1972,
pp. 201–208.
69. Zazzera, F., “Giornali dell’Illustrissimo ed Eccellentissimo Signor Pietro
Girone duca d’Ossuna”, in Palermo, F. (ed.), Narrazioni e documenti sulla storia
del regno di Napoli dall’anno 1522 al 1667, in Archivio Storico Italiano IX, 1846,
pp. 471–617, especially pp. 478–482.
70. Colapietra (ed.), 1973, pp. 24–28.
71. Amabile, L., Fra Tommaso Campanella, la sua, i suoi processi e la sua pazzia,
Naples: Morano 1882, vol. III, pp. 646–648.
72. Ibid., p. 648.